The quacks are calling from inside the house!

Yes, I would like to support my emotional well-being. No, I will not subsidize the Center for Spirituality and Healing to do it. My university has this stupid but well-funded garbage-hole in our midst, the CSH. It’s a disgrace. This is a unit associated with the nursing school that does helpful thinks like bring Deepak Chopra to campus, or teach nursing students Tellington Touch, a technique for waving your hands over a patient to diagnose and heal them. They are very good at leeching off of revenue streams, though.

So I get email to my official university promoting CSH nonsense, and this is a new low, informing me of opportunities to spend money on CSH.

The Center of Spirituality and Healing is offering an online three part workshop, “Mind and Body Tools”. For each session completed, you can earn 25 points. Suggested registration fee is $15 per workshop, sliding scale rates available. See attached flier for additional details and registration information.

Yeah, see attached flier.

Here’s what rubs me the wrong way. The university knows their faculty have been struggling with their workload and with ancillary phenomena like depression and fatigue. This is the first time they offered any kind of assistance for dealing with that sort of thing, and it’s from that nest of quacks they sponsor, and it’s going to be a vague online seminar — you can guess how fed up we are with all that. Then, to add injury to insult, they want to charge us for it.

The points bullshit is part of our “wellness” program. Earn 500 points for various activities, and they’ll cut $500 off our insurance premiums. Yay. We can support an insurance company and a quack center together, just by spending a few hours on a zoom call listening to spiritual pablum. You know what would ruin my emotional health further? Sitting through 3 hours of blithering snake oil salespeople telling me about my chakras.

I’ve got a better idea. Disband the Center for Spirituality and Healing, and take the money saved and invest it in your useful and overworked faculty.

Oh, look. They offer a summer course in aromatherapy! Oh, fuck you, CSH.


  1. johnk83776 says

    I don’t see much “spirituality “ in the course descriptions. What I do see is pretty standard Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You’ll be happy to know it’s efficacy has been empirically established. As for the yoga, what do you expect from a yoga teacher? At worst, it’s harmless. What behavior you substitute for sitting around ruminating about how terrible life is almost doesn’t matter, as long as it’s not drinking, drugging etc.

    It’s a shame it’s offered in the context of bullshit like aroma therapy.

  2. TGAP Dad says

    Is Tellington Touch just a rebranding of the 90s and aughts “therapeutic touch,” that quackery debunked by a 9-year-old girl? Fun fact: she published the study, which was also her fourth-grade science fair project, became the youngest person to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, JAMA in this case.

  3. raven says

    ‘High-level Scientologists are told that body thetans are responsible for physical and mental ailments, …”

    Thetans Wikipedia

    In Scientology, the concept of the thetan is similar to the concept of self, or the spirit or soul. A body thetan or a BT is a disincarnate thetan who is “stuck” in, on or near a human body, and all human bodies are said to be infested by these disembodied thetans, or clusters of them.

    Scientologists believe body thetans came about approximately 75 million years ago through a catastrophe brought on by a galactic dictator named Xenu, as described by L. Ron Hubbard in a confidential auditing (counseling level in Scientology) called OT III.

    High-level Scientologists are told that body thetans are responsible for physical and mental ailments, and are told to telepathically exorcize them using Scientology auditing processes.

    I see a way out of this.

    How many Wellness points do you get for clearing out your Thetan Ghosts?

  4. raven says

    Exorcism in Christianity – Wikipedia

    In Christianity, exorcism involves the practice of casting out one or more demons from a person whom they are believed to have possessed. The person …

    There is more.

    Fundie xians and Catholics claim that sickness and dark mental feelings are due to demonic possession. There are countless demons roaming the earth, looking for people to possess, or a good channel to watch on cable TV. Or whatever demons do in their spare time.

    PZ just needs to have an exorcism and get rid of all the demons he has picked up over the years.
    With all the demons evicted and all the Thetan ghosts cleared out, he will be amazingly healthy.
    How many Wellness points do they give for being exorcized and demon free?

  5. davidc1 says

    Well ,it’s got pretty flowers on the flyer ,so i am convinced .
    Reminds me of the sketch by that David Mitchell ,and that other bloke ,about woo doctors ,
    At the end they end up in the pub drinking homophatical beer .

  6. says

    From the product description:

    There are many circumstances over which we don’t have control. However, with understanding, awareness, and practice, we have a surprising amount of agency over our reactions and the overall experience. This…series…includes mind[-] and body-based exercises to help you better understand your experience of situations which create agitation, upset, and a sense that there is something wrong [gasp!]. You will learn practices that help restore a sense of acceptance and being okay in the midst of difficulty.

    From Andrea Jain’s Peace Love Yoga: The Politics of Global Spirituality (pp. 35-36):

    Under neoliberalism, emotional regulation is an obligation to both the individual and society; it is not just a personal project, but a civic duty…. Subjects are increasingly expected to not only manage, but also to prosper in the context of ongoing volatility… The popularity of relaxation, self-improvement, self-care, and stress management technologies, therefore, reflects the salience of models of subjectivity that prioritize the subject’s ability to respond to and exercise control over their feelings in response to precariousness.

  7. whheydt says

    SF writer Randall Garrett used to render the motto of the Order of the Garter (Honi soit qui y pense) as “I’m honestly going to be sick.”

    Something to, perhaps, cheer you up a bit… I was watching a news video from Iceland (the main subject was Sec. of State visiting there) and Mike Pence’s visit as VP was mentioned. Seems he went around to a bunch of business offices. Every one of them flew the LGBT+ Rainbow Flag while he did….

  8. unclefrogy says

    this is the reason i hate the term spiritual in general. I do not know if I can even think of a way to use the word spiritual that would not bring with it all the negative reactions. I am completely bereft
    of words to use in place of it that does not elicit mumbo-jumbo magical imaginary BS

  9. NitricAcid says

    I just had to sit through a presentation to our science department the other day where the presenter mentioned that her kids had ESP, and could see the colours of peoples’ auras. Since we’re all polite, nobody said a word of disbelief or contradiction.

  10. Ridana says

    Ok, fine. Since the $15 reg fee is merely suggested, register without paying it (and make a huge stink if they insist), log on to their seminar, mute your computer and walk away, and collect your points.

  11. Connie Collins says

    T-Touch at least gets people to pet their animals. I don’t think it’s a great healing exercise, but the heeler enjoys it.
    Maybe you could experiment on the evil cat?

  12. Bruce says

    PZ, I think you should put an ad in the local paper for your own school or “Center for Magic and Healing”, in which you teach a “different” way to wiggle your fingers over sick people. Then challenge the CSH to a duel against your CMH. Each side wiggles their fingers over ten people. If no diff end early in outcome is seen to exceed random chance, then UMM shoukd have to split their cSH contract with you. That would pay off the legal debt quickly.
    Unless the UMM lawyers wanted to be nasty.

  13. G Pierce says

    My university thankfully isn’t pushing anything like this, but they do advertise a lot of webinars on stress, emotions, etc. They are generally good and useful. The people putting them out have their heart in the right place. My critique is of the University. For some departments/job roles, 80% of the stress in our lives is caused by the university. I was at one of these managing emotions webinars and out of 30 attendees, almost a third were from my tiny department. We need more FTEs, period. So to get these emails on how to mitigate the damage they are doing to my health becomes grating. We had TWO faculty commit suicide last summer. TWO. Both were awesome, compassionate, gentle people, and one was a leader in extremely important treatments for a pervasive and horrible disease (I won’t get into specifics) that hopefully someone will continue, but who knows.
    Over time I have learned that sometimes the more window dressing type benefits an employer has (free meditation, summer parties, birthday cake for everyone, gourmet coffee, etc.) the more they are covering up for something. Pay me fairly, healthy level of stress, and get rid of the assholes. Do that and I’ll pay for my own coffee.